SOM hosts Immersion Week

Students from four international business schools visited SOM during Immersion Week to hear lectures on behavioral economics.
Students from four international business schools visited SOM during Immersion Week to hear lectures on behavioral economics. Photo by David Bach.

After returning from their first ever Immersion Week trips last month, students at the School of Management positively reviewed the new program, according to an SOM survey.

Immersion Week, which took place from March 4 to 8, allowed second-year MBA students at Yale and in four peer business schools in SOM’s Global Network for Advanced Management to take intensive weeklong courses across the world. As part of the initiative, each participating school organized courses and events for students from the other four institutions — including SOM, which drew the largest number of participants and hosted courses taught by SOM faculty focusing on behavioral economics. According to a survey SOM administrators distributed to students who went abroad last month, over 90 percent of SOM students who participated wrote that they would recommend it to their peers, and 90 percent said they would welcome the idea of SOM organizing an Immersion Week each semester.

Senior Associate Dean for Executive MBA and Global Programs David Bach ’98 said the school is organizing another Immersion Week this fall, adding that it will likely involve up to nine schools from the 22-school network.

“This was only a pilot — I want to get to a point where you know that, if you come to SOM, studying abroad for a week is an intrinsic and frequent opportunity,” Bach said. “I was amazed at how quickly students who visited SOM formed a community. Students from various backgrounds who had barely met worked together, networked together and learned together.”

A total of 64 students came to SOM through Immersion Week, and 69 SOM students went abroad to one of four institutions — the FGV Escola de Administração de Empresas de São Paulo in Brazil, Renmin University School of Business in China, Koç University Graduate School of Business in Turkey and IE Business School in Spain. SOM students gave the programs in Spain and Brazil the highest rankings in the survey, Bach said, adding that he thinks the course topics and instructors for these two locations might have been particularly well suited to SOM students.

SOM professors who taught courses during Immersion Week in New Haven and SOM students who went abroad said they appreciated Immersion Week’s hands-on approach to learning and the opportunity to teach and learn within a diverse community. Students from Global Network schools who came to New Haven said Yale’s prestige and the opportunity to meet business students from different countries led them to sign up for the trip to New Haven.

Thierry Papadopoulos, a student from the IE Business School in Madrid, said he made both professional connections and friends during his stay at SOM, adding that he particularly enjoyed the group’s trip to the New York Stock Exchange, which he said complemented his theoretical knowledge of trading. The program’s mix of theory and practice was just right, he said.

Ian Hillis SOM ’13, who visited IE Business School, said the hands-on learning involved in his trip made the program worthwhile.

“In addition to hearing about the Eurozone crisis directly from local thought leaders, we had the opportunity to analyze the situation through the lenses of peer MBA students representing countries and institutions all over the world,” he said. “You can only learn so much through a textbook or news article, but Immersion Week truly brought the issues to life.”

SOM professor Daylian Cain said it was “fun” for him to teach a group of students so enthusiastic about Yale, adding that he thinks most participants were well prepared for his course, and professor Nicholas Barberis said he was excited to see a diverse group of students debate ideas that shape the business world.

SOM professor Shane Frederick said he found it challenging to condense the material he wanted to teach into a three-hour long lecture, particularly because he was not acquainted with the visitors’ mastery of English — which he said was moderate, but still higher than he expected. Frederick said he looks forward to using this year’s experience to build Immersion Week in future years.

SOM administrators conceived Immersion Week in 2012.

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